Seventy years ago tonight, during the Blitz of WW2, an incendiary bomb fell onto St Pauls Cathedral and started a massive fire. People watching thought the great cathedral was doomed.
Two teams of specialist fire watchers recruited from the Royal Institute of British Architects — and hand-picked because they had heads for heights — were soon crawling along the wooden beams with hand pumps to reach the blazing section.
But suddenly the incendiary bomb, having burnt through the wood, fell far, far to the nave below, where it was easily put out. Though almost every building around St Paul’s perished, the cathedral survived.
Herbert Mason, a Daily Mail photographer was on the roof of the paper’s offices, less than a mile away, watching the conflagration.
'The glare of many fires and sweeping clouds of smoke kept hiding the shape. Then a wind sprang up. Suddenly, the shining cross, dome and towers stood out like a symbol in the inferno. The scene was unbelievable. In that moment or two, I released my shutter’
The next morning, it was bitterly cold. There was a light scattering of snow as office worker Dorothy Barton emerged from London Bridge station on her way to work. She gazed in horror at the acres of smoking and still burning ruins —then her heart lifted as she looked up at St Paul’s, towering over the scene. ‘I felt a lump in my throat because, like so many people, I felt that while St Paul’s survived, so would we,’ she said. [full story here]